Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Mind of Christ

The Mind of Christ

With all of the technology around us, we rarely, if ever, stop to think about how any of it works. Even things as simple as the light switch on our wall is taken for granted. The more complex technology like television, radio (satellite radio), computers, smartphones, etc., do not even give us pause to consider how they do what they do. We just take for granted that they work, and they will continue working, as long as they provide us the service that we desire.

But for just a moment I’d like you to think how truly simple these devices are. All of them, as a matter of fact, every digital device, when you boil it down, operate off of an electronic circuit known as a flip-flop. The flip-flop has one of two states: on or off. Typically this is represented by a positive electrical charge (on), or a negative electrical charge (off). For the purpose of communication we assign a numerical value of 0 (off) or 1 (on). This gives us a binary code that can then be used to represent strings of values, which give certain meanings, drive computers (a massive series of flip-flops) to do things for us like monitor our car engine’s fuel/oxygen mixture for optimum performance, or drive the robotic device used by a surgeon to perform tedious operations too delicate for just a human hand to accomplish.

These, and many, many more all come down to a 0 or a 1. Is the flip-flop on or off? The thing that triggered these thoughts was the television I was watching this afternoon. It happened to be a football game being played in San Diego, CA. There in the stadium were camera lenses connected to computers that turned the optics being captured into a digital stream of 1s and 0s. That stream was then translated into the broadcast format being sent (HD) that was beamed up to a satellite, downloaded to receivers across the globe, one of which was WHNT in Huntsville, AL. They in turn beamed the signal over to Florence where it was picked up by Comcast, merged into their signal being sent over the vast coax web that covers Lauderdale County, into my DVR, and displayed on my television.

If you understand how many 1s and 0s it takes to produce just one frame of HD on your television then you realize that is quite a feat. My television is displaying 1920 x 1080 resolution. That means it takes 2,073,600 pixels just to make one image. Normal HD is refreshed at, on the low end, 60 times per second up to 480 times per second. In one second of video content on my television, using the low end of 60Hz, it takes 124,416,000 pixels transmitted from the San Diego stadium to Robinhood Drive in Florence. I’ll save you the numbers, but a 3 hour football game takes a bunch of pixels.

Now realize that each pixel being displayed is not just a 0 or 1. It has to have additional information like color, intensity, etc. The number just keeps growing. And remember, these numbers represent what is being sent per second!!

“Why,” you may ask, “are you boring us with all of this?” I was contemplating the way we process information. It is much the same way as the computer. We receive information from our senses: smell, touch, sight, sound, and taste. We respond to each one of these as they signal to our brain (0 or 1, on or off) causing a reaction from us. Many times we respond out of habit, actually most times, because we know what a given stimulus means and what the usual outcome should be. For instance, when driving we see a traffic light change from green to yellow. Instinctively we press the brake to slow down (or stomp the accelerator to run through it!) because we have done it so many times until our brain responds without thinking. We feel cold so we put on warmer clothes or turn up the heat. We thirst so we get water.

These responses are the same as the computer being fed a string of data (0s and 1s) and it giving the output predetermined by its programming. In the example I gave at the beginning of this piece, at each step in the sequence there was a processor (computer) involved: in the camera, the image processor, satellite transmitter/receiver, broadcast transmitter/receiver, cable distribution, DVR, and the television itself. Make note of the word “programmed.”

The human brain is the most capable of all mammals. We can learn, recall, and reason better than all the animals. We can also invent, create, derive, and evaluate new circumstances quickly and formulate a plan or response to new stimuli within seconds. I promise all of this is going somewhere. We are created in the image of God. If you’re a Believer you have the Holy Spirit inside you that will help you.

The enemy attempts to get us off course from following after our Lord in any way possible. He tries to present stimuli for which we are not programmed. He will introduce what the Bible calls “schemes” in order to sideline us from experiencing God’s best. If you think of these as 0s and 1s it makes things a little more simple for us. For each stimulus we give a response. We act out of our past experience. This is why it is so critical for us to have a relationship with Christ, study His Word, and immerse ourselves in prayer so that we will have the Mind of Christ in us. Then, when stimulus comes we can see it through the eyes of the Lord, and it gives us a predisposition (programming) to respond as Jesus would.

By maintaining an open dialog with our Creator through prayer we can learn to recognize the schemes of the enemy so that we will not be duped by his attempts to draw us off course. Even unfamiliar data can be met with a proper response because we know the Truth that lives inside of us. The key to all of this is to keep things simple. When we start trying to take in all of the data at one time we get overwhelmed. This is when we tend to make poor decisions. We become more reactionary with our behavior instead on giving a purposeful response based on what we know to be true about God, His nature, His character, and His love for us.

We are just like the computer. A computer only has a single decision to make and any given time. Is it a 0 or a 1? As complex as our lives seem to be, we are, in any given moment, making a decision based on current stimuli. Our response will determine the eventual outcome.

Computers have what is called a “check bit” to ensure data integrity. It is derived from an algorithm using the value being transmitted. In our life, this is the Holy Spirit. He is constantly giving us information on what we encounter and our response to it. He will let us know when a proposed response is appropriate. Our challenge is to get sensitive enough to this prompting that we do not act until we know the Spirit’s answer.

The best part about all of this is that our God is the Master Programmer. He knows exactly how each of us is wired, what we are capable of producing, and gives us His Holy Spirit to help us carry out His thoughts and intents for our lives. “We are His workmanship.” (Ephesians 2:10) We are to become conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). We do this by renewing our minds to think like Jesus. (Romans 12:2)

Paul put it like this in Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus …